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Addiction in Movies: Summaries and Treatment Approaches

When a Man Loves a Woman

Choose a movie from Appendix B. After watching a movie, write a 3-4 page paper summarizing the movie, outlining the demise of the addicted character, discussing the family dynamics and how they impact the addiction, and explaining the treatment approach used in the movie. Finally, discuss whether or not treatment was successful and why or why not you feel it was. End with any recommendations you would have for treatment or resources for the family if you were the treating therapist. As always, APA format and cited sources are expected.  

1994:  “When A Man Loves a Woman,” Explores the family tensions and secrecies accompanying the alcoholism of the wife (Meg Ryan) and denial by the husband (Andy Garcia).  She recovers in treatment.  He eventually recovers in Al Anon, one of the few films to depict the latter organization.  Good portrayals.

1983.  “Tender Mercies.”  Story of “Mac Sledge” (Robert Duvall, Best Actor), former star country singer, lost in the bottle, who recovers and through the non-judgmental health of a new wife (Tess Harper).  He stays sober despite the death of his child and post-divorce conflicts.  No group or individual therapy indicated.

1982.  “I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can.”  TV producer, Barbara Gordon’s (Jill Clayburgh) addiction to valium.   She recovers in an institutional setting after several failed attempts to recover by herself.  No formal A.A.  To the best of my knowledge, this is the only general-distribution film focused on substance abuse that is centered on pill addictions.  Clayburgh is excellent.

1981: “Only When I Laugh.” A actress, Georgia (Marsha Mason) has completed three months in a treatment center and faces the challenge of repairing her relationship with her daughter, Polly (Kristy McNichol).  Film traces her crises that challenge her young sobriety.  Treatment.  Program.  Family.

1958: “Too Much, Too Soon.” Dorothy Malone as Diana Barrymore who stays away from her alcoholic father during his lifetime only to turn to excessive drinking and numerous marriages and suicide attempts.  Treatment center.  A “moral” ending with Barrymore in recovery.  This is an early portrayal of children and their experiences in alcoholic/drug abusing family settings.

1989: “My Name is Bill W.” Based on the inspiring true story of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, this moving drama stars James Woods in an Emmy-winning performance as Bill Wilson, a successful stockbroker who loses everything in the 1929 stock market crash. After succumbing to depression and drink, he eventually sobers up with the help of fellow recovering alcoholic Dr. Bob (James Garner). With newfound hope for the future, the two create the 1995: “The Basketball Diaries.” This film, based on a true story, tells the harrowing fall of Jim Carroll from a basketball star deep into the world of drug addiction.

2004: “Ray.” Raised on a sharecropping plantation in Northern Florida, Ray Charles Robinson went blind at the age of seven, shortly after witnessing his younger brother drown. Inspired by a fiercely independent mother who insisted he make his own way in the world, Charles found his calling and his gift behind a piano keyboard. Touring across the chitlin circuit, the soulful singer gained a reputation and then exploded with worldwide fame when he pioneered incorporating gospel, country, jazz, and orchestral influences into his inimitable style.

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